16 July 2008 | fibbermac
OK Universal pre-war programmer.
Spies are after the plans for the B-17 flying fortress and it's revolutionary bomb-sight. One of the engineers working on the project (Richard Cromwell) is unjustly accused by a federal agent (Robert Armstrong) of delivering the plans to a spy ring led by Dr. Jeffrey Arnold (Philip Dorn). How he turns the tables on the spy ring is the story this film tells.
Sounds like an interesting WWII anti-Nazi propaganda flick, doesn't it? The kind Hollywood churned out night and day during the war? But the interesting thing here is that this film was released over a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hollywood was already taking sides and had fingered the Nazis as the bad guys. Although it's true that the nation behind the spy ring isn't specifically named,... by accent, dress, and demeanor these spies are clearly meant to appear German.
Unfortunately, this film has a few things working against it. There's the love interest that isn't all that interesting. A strange scene calling for the hero to strike a woman (clearly awkward for all involved). Plus a few plot twists that really defy logic. But the main flaw in my eyes was casting Richard Cromwell as the lead. Although Cromwell was roughly 30 years old at the time this film was made, his youthful appearance makes him look way too young to be an aircraft engineer. He looks like he should be selling newspapers on the corner instead of designing top-secret military aircraft.
Working in this film's favor are some familiar faces that turn up as the plot progresses. Robert Armstrong (King Kong) is the G-man. Abner Biberman (His Girl Friday, Gunga Din) plays one of the spy ring's henchmen. And Jack Carson (A Star is Born, Arsenic and Old Lace) pops up late in the film as a drunken party-goer.
Never released on video or DVD, one has to try hard to find a copy of this film. And I'm not sure why you'd want to.